On stage, Mohamed and Reynolds provide calming sounds using unconventional instruments such as the Paraguayan harp, Kora (African harp), Khoisan mouthbow. Picture: Shakirah Thebus
On stage, Mohamed and Reynolds provide calming sounds using unconventional instruments such as the Paraguayan harp, Kora (African harp), Khoisan mouthbow. Picture: Shakirah Thebus

Pops Mohamed, Dave Reynolds 'bring the spirit of the San back into the landscape' with music

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Nov 22, 2021

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Cape Town - Moving gentle, yet gripping sounds carried through the room where several gathered to hear multi-instrumentalists Pops Mohamed and Dave Reynolds perform live, for the final leg of their Cape Town tour.

Mohamed and Reynolds shared music they composed for the multi-award winning documentary, “SanDance! A Journey to the Heart of Africa’s San Dance Culture”, at Trenchtown, Observatory, on Sunday, November, 14.

On stage, Mohamed and Reynolds provide calming sounds using unconventional instruments such as the Paraguayan harp, Kora (African harp), Khoisan mouthbow, steelpans, Kalimba (thumb piano), classical guitar and ten-string harp guitar.

The evening also featured a screening of the hour-long independent documentary by film-maker Richard Wicksteed, followed by a Q&A session.

During the session, Wicksteed said, “It's a complex thing to put a project of this nature together and it's really a team effort with a big team behind it.

“It is part of our intention to bring the spirit of the San back into the landscape,” said Wicksteed. “To bring this voice alive. It's a soft voice, it's disposed, under threat, every generation, more is lost.

“It's our hope that through work like this, we can just play some small part in helping to keep it regenerating.”

The documentary is available for purchase at R250 and is co-produced with San NGO, the Kuru Development Trust (KDT). Proceeds from the DVD sales will go towards the San dance groups featured in the documentary and KDT whose work is focused on the economic empowerment of San people.

“The San people have really been impacted by the killing of the tourist trade under Covid-19. It's one of the main streams of income for many of the San communities.

“Our people are pretty desperate right now and so any effort to support them is most welcome, whether it is through the purchase of the film or supporting San organisations and communities,” said Wicksteed.

The documentary follows the rituals, rehearsals and dance ceremonies of San people from Botswana and Namibia, and their preparation for one of the biggest annual San dance festivals, the Kuru Dance Festival, attracting both local and international spectators.

The time is of great significance as it marks the full moon, with the belief that San members are able to heal the sick through special powers.

“SanDance!” producer Edwin Angless said, “Radiating from the Kuru Dance Festival into the visionary world of the trance-healing dance, 'SanDance!’ illuminates the spiritual traditions that underpin San culture across Southern Africa.

“'SanDance!’ expresses the hopes, fears and dreams of San dancers as they strive to revitalise beautiful dance traditions threatened by the marginalisation of the San’s fragile hunter-gatherer culture.”

“SanDance!” won Best Documentary Award at the Garden Route International Film Festival, Best Feature Documentary at the Bucharest Film Awards, and Best Feature Documentary at the Paris Film Festival.

The evening also saw the launch of the SANDANCE! THE SOUNDTRACK album.

Reynolds said the music won best Best Documentary Soundtrack at the Accolade Festival.

“So far discussions have included issues of identity, modern San heritage, especially here in Cape Town, lessons we can learn from ancient cultures, appropriation of culture and the need for a new understanding regarding resources and the environment in the world.

“It's also about sharing joyful music and fun, which Pops and I have dedicated our whole lives to,” said Reynolds.

Liesbeek Action Campaign co-ordinator Nadine Dirks said: “It's important for us to remember, especially in South Africa and Cape Town, that the San didn’t stop existing because we were colonised and that culture evolves as we evolve as a people.

“And so yes, those parts of us are somewhat missing in some places but you see throughout how we live our lives, how we move, how we just celebrate.”

Anyone interested in purchasing a DVD should email [email protected] Visit www.sandance.org for more information.

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